Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dracula revisited

In the past, I've talked about "research" or something better known as "the books I'm reading for inspiration during my rough draft process." During this last project of mine--the first book in my Vampire Underground series for Berkley --I read the usual eclectic bunch. So I figured that, for the next few blogs, I'm going to concentrate on each of the books and explain how it fit in to the scheme of my writing.

Today's book is an obvious choice: THE HISTORIAN. Why did I chose to read it? Vampires. Simple as that.

When I first heard the hype about this story, I was really excited. It was touted as a cross between DRACULA and THE DA VINCI CODE. Of course, I enjoyed the latter book--it was great fun. And you all know that I love Bram Stoker's work--no matter what kind of vampire fiction comes along, DRACULA will always be the granddaddy of them all, and rightly so. I read that book over ten years ago, thinking it was my English-major duty to do so. But you know what? I loved it. Not only was the premise brilliant, but there's a very compelling romantic "square" with Lucy and her suitors. The letter structure was perfect, adding to the pacing and the diverse points of view. Excellent storytelling.

THE HISTORIAN borrows Stoker's structure, using letters and documents to show the action. In fact, I would say that this entire book is one step past an homage to Stoker's work--almost a sequel, a "where is Dracula now" follow up. The idea of Vlad Tepes as Dracula has been around a while (It's well known that Stoker used him as a model for his vampire.), as has the premise that Dracula is still alive. So what has made this book a huge bestseller? For me, the research is noteworthy--it's absolutely amazing, as a matter of fact. But I did find the story's pacing to be a bit slower than I wanted it to be. I also couldn't easily buy into the conceit that someone sat down to write these very long, meticulously detailed letters in the amount of time they would have needed to accomplish the task. But the settings were lovely and vivid, and a lot of care went in to creating them; this gave THE HISTORIAN a great gothic-inspired tone.

Ultimately, this book got me into the "vampire groove." Again, that's a very simple reason for me to have chosen it. Besides, it's supposed to be the "hot read" of the summer and I wanted to be in on all the bookshelf talk. That's the curse of a media brat, I guess.

Next blog: Why I read LITTLE GIRL LOST by Drew Barrymore.

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